Back pain is an extremely common fact of life. With at least 80% of Americans experiencing back pain at one time or another, chances are good that if you haven’t felt back pain yourself, you know someone who has.
While there is a huge number of reasons why people feel back pain, perhaps one of the most common causes for those between the ages of 30 and 50 is a bulging disc. You might think that a bulging disc will need surgery or that you simply have to live with the pain, but neither of these beliefs is true.
Want to know more about bulging discs and how you can treat one naturally?
What Causes a Bulging Disc?
In-between each vertebra of the spine and neck are small cushions called discs.
Bulging discs are most often caused by accidents, such as car or motorcycle collisions, sports accidents, or even a slip and fall.
However, genetics sometimes leave people with less than flexible discs, making them more prone to injuries.
Other causes include too little exercise and sitting for extended periods of time, especially with poor posture. While most people think of the lower back when it comes to bulging or herniated discs, the discs in the neck can also become damaged.
What is the Difference Between a Herniated Disc and a Bulging Disc?
When accidents, pressure, or damage happens to the spine, the discs flatten out to absorb the shock, however, this sometimes causes the disc to push out from one part of the vertebra. This protrusion is felt by one of the many nerves in the spine.
A herniated disc is similar, but instead of simply sticking out, the disc itself actually tears, and the jelly-like substance inside is pushed out, similar to toothpaste in a tube.
How to Heal Bulging Discs Naturally
Almost all bulging discs can heal on their own given proper treatment and time. Some of the best ways to help speed up healing includes:
1. Knowing What to Do and What Not to Do
The pain of bulging discs is sometimes excruciating, which causes many people to make a trip to the emergency room, get some pain killers, and then spend a few weeks in bed. While the need for pain killers and bed rest is probably the best remedy, the problem arises when people spend weeks in bed or on the sofa. This only makes the problem much, much worse.
After the first 48-72 hours, you need to get back on your feet and be as active as possible. Many people think this is impossible, but with proper care and guidance, you will find ways to make this easier, such as which position is best for sleeping, and how to stop inflammation. Our next step explains this further.
2. Comprehensive Chiropractic Care
One of the best and fastest ways to heal a bulging disc is a comprehensive treatment plan from your local chiropractor. You will feel pain in different places depending on where the bulging disc is located. The chiropractor will determine which disc has been damaged and create a treatment plan based on your age and health needs or health history.
Chiropractic adjustments of the vertebra will relieve pressure on the disc and allow for a small amount of space within the vertebra, which will allow the disc to return to its proper location.
Other types of physical therapy modalities or treatments might include:
- Chiropractic massage
- Cold laser therapy
- Physical rehabilitative exercises
- Stretching programs
- Heat or cold therapy
Your chiropractor will give you valuable advice and guidance like what the chiropractors at Better Health Chiropractic clinic in Juneau do on what exercises, movements, and helpful stretching programs, such as yoga, you can do that won’t make your bulging disc pain worse. They will also help you to strengthen muscles and other tissues that have become weak or damaged because of the bulging disc.
Chiropractic care is safe and effective, especially when it comes to allowing your bulging disc to heal naturally and return to the proper position in your spine.
3. You Probably Won’t Need Surgery
Although many people believe otherwise, the truth is that you probably won’t need surgery for your bulging disc. Less than 1% of people with bulging discs require surgery.
Even in surgery, minimally invasive treatments are becoming common, and surgeons utilize minor surgical techniques to correct building disc problems, such as endoscopic spine surgery for relieving pain. Post-procedure, the patient performs exercises to strengthen back muscles and regains momentum without pain. Learn more about minimally invasive treatments from here.
The worst pain occurs during the first 48-72 hours. After that time, your pain levels begin to decrease, and the body slowly starts healing itself. While the acute pain might make you believe you will need surgery for anything that hurts this much, a visit to your chiropractor will reassure you otherwise.
4. Months of Addictive Pain Killers are NOT the Answer
While it’s true that the initial pain of bulging discs can be excruciating, you don’t need months, or even 1 month, of opioid-based pain killers. Did you know that, for some people, addiction can occur within 5 days? In fact, some studies have found that people who take opioids have slower healing rates than those who do not.
Over-the-counter pain killers can help for a short time, but you don’t want to take these for more than 3 weeks since they can cause liver damage.
Eat a more natural, anti-inflammatory diet and remove inflammatory-causing foods at this time since inflammation causes pain. There are also a wide variety of natural compounds, such as turmeric, that act as natural anti-inflammatories. If you aren’t sure which supplements are right for you, speak to your doctor, pharmacist, or chiropractor.
5. Pain Felt Elsewhere Might be a Bulging Disc
One thing most people are rarely told is that the pain you are feeling in other parts of the body might actually stem from a bulging disc. Many types of pain, including painful muscle spasms, numbness or pins and needle type of feeling in the legs, buttocks, or toes, even muscle cramps or a stiff feeling near the tailbone can all be the result of a bulging disc.
This is why regular checkups and a proper diagnosis are so important when it comes to your health. By recognizing problems when they are small and receiving proper treatment, you can avoid larger, more painful, and difficult to heal health issues down the road.
The Bottom Line
Of course, it’s impossible to change your genetic makeup or to avoid all accidents, however, you can be proactive about your health with regular checkups from trusted healthcare professionals, including your doctor, dentist, and chiropractor.